Skip to main content

Is 'Fifty Shades' to blame for rise in handcuff emergencies?

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
July 30, 2013 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Fifty Shades" could be behind rise in emergencies involving handcuffs, London firefighters say
  • The city's firefighters have been called to 79 handcuff incidents in the past three years
  • A U.S. congressman says prisoners in Guantanamo are also fans

London (CNN) -- The bestselling erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey" may have done more than spice up readers' love lives.

Firefighters in London say it could be to blame for a rise in the emergency calls from people stuck in all kinds of awkward situations -- some involving handcuffs.

Read more: Explaining 'Fifty Shades' wild success

The wildly-popular trilogy details the S&M-flavored love story of a recent college grad and a billionaire CEO. It's also credited with boosting sales of sex toys, driving women to hook-up sites and fueling a craze over sexual domination.

So, it's not surprising there would be a downside.

In the past three years, London's fire crews have been called to 79 incidents involving people trapped in handcuffs.

'Fifty Shades of Grey' becomes musical
'Mr. Fifty Shades' talks of wife, family
'Mommy porn' pulled from library shelves

"I don't know whether it's the Fifty Shades effect, but the number of incidents involving items like handcuffs seems to have gone up," said Third Officer Dave Brown.

"I'm sure most people will be Fifty Shades of red by the time our crews arrive to free them."

Such red-faced moments are among more than 1,300 calls involving people being trapped "often in everyday household items" since 2010, the fire service said.

Such calls are not just awkward; they end up costing the taxpayer. London Fire Brigade puts the cost of these 1,300 calls at £377,000 ($580,000.)

But it's not just London where E L James' erotic fiction has been making an impact.

Virginia Representative Jim Moran said the trilogy is a hit in a camp housing high-value detainees within the Guantanamo Bay prison complex.

"Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the (high-value detainees) is Fifty Shades of Grey. They've read the entire series in English, but we were willing to translate it," he said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

The insight into the prisoners' reading habits was provided by military officials showing a congressional delegation around Camp Seven, the Democrat said.

"I guess there's not much going on, these guys are going nowhere, so what the hell," he is quoted as saying.

The trilogy has sold more than 32 million copies in the United States alone since the first installment was published in 2011. With a film version due for release next year, London's firefighters may have to respond to many more calls.

So, the fire brigade has a word of advice to offer: Use a little common sense.

And if you try handcuffs, always keep the keys handy.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0242 GMT (1042 HKT)
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2058 GMT (0458 HKT)
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
October 23, 2014 -- Updated 1414 GMT (2214 HKT)
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1607 GMT (0007 HKT)
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1748 GMT (0148 HKT)
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 0959 GMT (1759 HKT)
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1021 GMT (1821 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT